Sunday, June 24, 2012

Genuine salvation's unending joy

1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

When we consider the biblical concept of “The Living Word”, we often will turn to the writings of the Apostle John – and rightly so.  The phrase “Living Word” is a title that applies equally to the Bible and to the Lord Jesus Christ.  John certainly bears this out in significant texts such as John 1:1-18 and 1 John 1:1-4.  It is in those texts we see joyful-word centered Christianity defined.

However there is another Apostle who took up the pen under the direction of the Holy Ghost and wrote about “The Living Word” – namely the Apostle Peter.  Peter will explain in 1 Peter 1 why the design of Christian salvation is centered around enjoyment of the Word and the WORD. 

Peter - the man of "The Word"
Peter ended up writing two letters bearing His name.  In the first chapter of this first letter, we are going to explore what Peter has to say about the Living WORD – Jesus Christ, and the Written Word, the Bible.  In fact, 1 Peter 1:23 is a text that could describe the work of either Christ or the scriptures.  Peter writes there:  "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." 

Peter is going to underscore the centrality of the WORD (Jesus Christ) and the Word (The Bible), and even more so, the enjoyment that results from centering on both.  In this blog we aim to understand why Christianity must be joyfully word centered by considering the following three ideas from 1 Peter 1:

1. Genuine Salvation begins with enjoyment of  the Word (and the word) 1:1-12

2. Godly Living continues with enjoyment  of the Word (and the word) 1:13-16

3. Great Hope is unending in the enjoyment of the Word (and the Word) 1:17-25

Since this is such an important theme, we will only focus on the first of these ideas.  First of all, Christianity must be joyfully word-centered due to the fact that:

Genuine Salvation begins with enjoyment of  the Word (and the word) 1:1-12

1 Peter 1:1-12 is all about the unfolding of the beginning of the believer’s salvation.  Consider what Peter writes about biblical salvation:
1. God’s choosing of the believer in love in 1 Peter 1:1-2. 
2. The New birth, whereby the Divine Gifting of faith is literally “birthed” in the hearer of the Gospel, resulting in conversion.  1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:8-9 
3. Ongoing growth in Christlikeness – or what we call sanctification. 1 Peter 1:4
4. The believer’s perseverance – whereby every true child of God will persevere until the very end to Christ’s appearing. 1 Peter 1:5 

Prior to God's grace, I had anything but joy towards the Word.  Jesus Christ was of no consequence in my thinking.  I tried to gain joy through self-righteousness.  Before faith came, I was in bondage, under judgment, condemned by the Law of God. (Galatians 3:24ff)  However once God in His grace called my name, I believed, and now am enjoying the riches of freedom in my salvation.  Quite literally, there is "rejoicing" over what Christ has done and is doing in having made me an heir of the promises of salvation. (Galatians 4:30)

How joy shines through the believer's salvation
Like a string of diamonds does Peter lays out the warp and woof of Genuine salvation.  Then he makes this statement in 1 Peter 1:6 which is pertinent to today's blog: “this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.”  It is here where we see the theme of “joy” or “rejoicing” as one of the chief marks of genuine conversion.  Despite the dark background of trials, of which Peter states to be normative for the Christian in 1 Peter 1:7, The joy of salvation shines through the darkness like a series of bright diamonds or brilliant stars. 

The believer's uncontainable joy - The Living WORD
In fact we see one more statement made pertaining to our enjoyment of the Living Word Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:8 states: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.”  The Greek of this verse literally pictures the believer so full of joy that they are singing joyfully to themselves over this joy that they cannot contain.    
May you and I dear friend enjoy the Word and the WORD - for the joy of our salvation demands it, requires it and will die without it. 

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